11 September 2023
SAMWU welcomes SALGBC ruling dismissing City of Tshwane’s frivolous exemption application, calls for the City to immediately pay workers’ salary increases.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) notes and welcomes the decision by the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) to dismiss the frivolous exemption application by the City of Tshwane to be exempted from paying workers their salary 5.4% salary increases effective from 1 July 2023.
In 2021, parties in the SALGBC concluded a three-year salary and wage collective agreement which would have seen municipal workers in the country’s 257 municipalities receive a 3.5%, 4.9% and 5.4% salary and wage increases in 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively. Instead of implementing the first leg of the agreement in 2021, the City of Tshwane applied to be exempted from the agreement and had their application dismissed.
This year, municipal workers were supposed to receive a 5.4% salary and wage increase effective from 1 July. Instead of implementing the agreement, the City played delaying tactics and finally applied to be exempted from the collective agreement in August, a month after the increases were supposed to be implemented.
During the exemption hearing which was heard before a Senior Commissioner under the auspices of the SALGBC in early September, the City failed to prove that it does not have the resources needed to fund the salary increases. It has always been SAMWU’s contention that the City does have the money for these increases, but has taken a political decision to deliberately deny workers their salaries for a second time in three years.
As SAMWU, we welcome the ruling of the SALGBC as a vindication to the calls and arguments that have been made by the Union that the City does have the resources to pay workers their increases. Instead, the City had taken a decision to deliberately deny workers as a way to undermine collective bargaining and dismantle workers’ unity within the City.
The Executive Mayor, Cllr Cilliers Brink has on numerous occasions pleaded poverty on behalf of the City as one of the reasons why the City would not be honoring a contractually binding agreement between the City and its employees. The Mayor went as far as saying that he and his team will argue their case before the SALGBC.
According to the Commissioner, the City failed to prove its financial difficulties which they claimed. She further pointed to the fat that the City’s finances have been improving since the last financial year. Importantly, the City had budgeted just over R12 billion for staff remuneration but did ended up with a surplus of just over R1.1 billion. Taking this into consideration, the Commissioner dismissed the application by the City and ordered the City to comply with the 2021 and wage collective agreement.
As SAMWU, we implore the City and its management to do the right thing and comply with the collective agreement and the SALGBC ruling. The Mayor has on numerous occasions indicated that his government respects collective bargaining. If this is indeed the case, the Mayor will immediately instruct the administration to process salary increases for municipal workers in Tshwane effective from 1 July 2021.
Municipal workers in Tshwane have in the last three years been denied salary and wage increases, which were agreed to in the SALGBC twice. The blatant refusal to pay these increases has compounded the economic pressure that workers are experiencing. These workers are unable to keep up with the cost of living.
If Cllr Brink and his administration really respect collective bargaining and cares for the wellbeing of employees, the ruling of the SALGBC and the collective agreement will be implemented with immediate effect. The City was given an opportunity to make their case and they have failed convince the Commissioner that they are indeed facing financial difficulties which prevents them from paying the increases. As SAMWU, we will be closely monitoring the developments in Tshwane.
The Union’s leadership thanks its members for the patience they have shown and allowing the Union to defend them during this process. We know that the process has had serious financial strain on municipal workers. We are however pleased that as we said when this process begun, workers will emerge out victorious!
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
076 580 4029
Gauteng Provincial Secretary
083 941 5888
Tshwane Regional Secretary
072 601 8876